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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Menopause's Unwanted Effect on Hair

Menopause's Unwanted Effect on Hair

Because of hormone shifts, women may start losing hair on their heads and see it pop up where they don't want it: their face. Thankfully, there are treatments that can help.

It’s bad enough that menopause symptoms such as hot flashesand mood swings can turn your life upside down, but menopause can also lead to some serious changes in your hair. Menopause can cause the hair on your head to start thinning and the hair on your upper lip or chin to get thicker.
Thinning hair happens to about half of all women by age 50, while up to 15 percent of women experience hair growth on their chin, upper lip, or cheeks after menopause, according to the North American Menopause Society.
“Sometimes women experience both, sometimes it’s one or the other,” says Mary Polan, MD, a gynecologist at Columbia Doctors Eastside in New York City.
The culprit: changes in estrogen and androgen levels during menopause. Both levels of hormones go down duringmenopause, but at different rates. Estrogen levels drop severely while androgen levels drop more slowly over time. As a result, the ratio of estrogen to androgen levels changes dramatically, Dr. Polan says.
That can lead to scalp hair loss in women (who may already be prone to thinning hair due to genetics or aging) and the arrival of fine hair, or “peach fuzz,” on the upper lip or chin, or dark, wiry, hairs on the chin that grow quickly.

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